Admissions: How Colleges Select Students

About this article
With the number of people wanting to attend college on the rise, schools are becoming more selective in whom they accept. This article contains information that introduces you, the potential student, to the college selection process.
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Admission officers evaluate applications in several different ways, depending on how competitive their college is. In terms of selectivity, colleges and universities fall into three basic categories:

  1. Less Selective
  2. More Selective
  3. Very Selective

Less Selective Colleges:

Less selective colleges usually determine your acceptance by posing two questions: have you met the college's basic requirements and does the college itself have availability? While not required for admission, ACT and/or SAT scores may be used for placement.

More Selective Colleges:

More selective colleges, which is the category most colleges fit into, have stricter standards. These colleges and universities look at the following:

  • Admission Test (ACT/SAT) Scores
  • Course Work
  • Grades
  • Letters of Recommendations (if requested)
  • Personal Statements/Essays

Very Selective Colleges:

Finally, very selective colleges evaluate students on all above-named criteria and more. Very selective colleges scrutinize every aspect of a student's high school experience. Many applicants that apply to very selective schools are already strong academically, thus factor such as your personal statement and transcript are critical.

In normal situations admission officers will follow what is called a need-blind admission policy. In other words, yours and your family's income is not a factor in determining whether you are accepted or not. In some cases, admissions officers are 'need conscious,' so at these schools you and your family's income is a factor.

Collegeboard.com states that selective colleges consider these factors for admission:

  • Admission Test (ACT/SAT) Scores
  • Alumni Relationship
  • Application Questions and Essays
  • Completed Courses
  • Counselor and/or Teacher Recommendations
  • Ethnicity
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Geographic Location
  • Grades
  • Grade Point Average
  • Major and/or College Chosen
  • Personal Interview
  • Rank in Graduating Class
  • Special Talents and Skills

Now that you have a better idea of what colleges are looking for, you will be able to meet these prerequisites with confidence.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    Certificate
      • Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate
      • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate
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    2. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Finance
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
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    3. Winthrop University

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    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Arts Administration
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing
      • Master of Education in Special Education Intervention
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Leadership
      • Master of Social Work
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Loyola University New Orleans

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • MSN to DNP
      • MSN to DNP - Nurse Practitioner
      • MSN to DNP - Executive Nurse Leader
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      • RN to MSN
      • RN-MSN Bridge
      • MSN - Nursing Leadership
      • RN to MSN - Nursing Leadership
      • RN-MSN Bridge - Nursing Leadership
      • MSN - Nurse Educator
    Bachelor's
      • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Seton Hall University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Accounting
      • Master of Public Administration in Non-Profit Management
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing
    Certificate
      • Certificate: Post Conflict State Reconstruction and Sustainability
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Project Management
      • Master of Finance
      • Master of Professional Accounting
      • Master - Information Technology Management
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
      • Master - Human Resource Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Communication
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      • BS - Accounting
      • BS - Project Management
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      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Human Resource Management
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  • Online Programs Available
    7. Johns Hopkins University

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    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice: Clinical Nurse Specialist Specialization - Online
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      • Flexible MBA - Interdisciplinary Business - Campus
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    Certificate
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      • Post-Master Acute Care Pediatric Certificate - Online
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    8. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Public Administration
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      • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership
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    9. Widener University

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    Master's
      • Dual Master of Jurisprudence in Corporate and Business Law / Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration
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      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
      • Hybrid Dual Master of Social Work/Master of Education, Human Sexuality Studies
      • Master of Social Work
    Bachelor's
      • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Online Programs Available
    10. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
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    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Agile Project Management
      • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management
      • Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Analytics and Management
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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Science in Finance
  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate

What is your highest level of education completed?

Winthrop University

  • Master of Arts in Arts Administration
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration - Marketing

What is your highest level of education?

Loyola University New Orleans

  • MSN to DNP
  • RN to MSN
  • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

What is your highest level of education?

Seton Hall University

  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Public Administration in Non-Profit Management
  • Certificate: Post Conflict State Reconstruction and Sustainability

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master of Project Management
  • BS - Communication
  • Graduate Certificate - Human Resource Management

What is your highest level of education?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice: Clinical Nurse Specialist Specialization - Online
  • Flexible MBA - Interdisciplinary Business - Campus
  • Certificate in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

University of Delaware

  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration - Finance

What is your highest level of education completed?